Although it’s been unusually warm and sunny this Autumn, I know it’s November in my garden because of the changing colours. There’s been a real shift from purple to deep vibrant red, like the beautiful rose in my cover picture. But she’s not the only one, so what else is giving my garden its seasonal glow up this month?
What's flowering now?
There are still some glimpses of purple, like the lavender by our front door, which stands out beautifully against the acid green flowers of the euphorbia oblongata. This is such a brilliant foliage filler in a vase, it really shows off the main flowers so well. I grew both these perennial plants from seeds, the lavender last year, and the euphorbia about five years ago. All I do now is prune them from time to time then leave them alone. Word of warning though: euphorbias leak a milky sap which is a well-known skin irritant so always wear gloves unless you want red balloons for hands.
And the pretty little purple geranium nodusum underneath our conifer hedge has just started flowering again too. It’s a very easy plant that grows in nearly all soils and conditions (under our hedge is dry and shady) and it’s a welcome splash of colour.
The recent frosts have finally blackened the foliage on all my dahlias. It’s time to cut them down and leave around four inches of stem. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said this but I never lift the tubers and store them over winter. It’s too much faff so I mulch heavily with a very thick layer of compost instead. If they die, I’ll just plant some new ones instead. Gardening should be fun, not a major headache, at least, that’s what I believe.
I mentioned the colour change from purple to red – and that’s very evident when you look at the fuchsia buds and the skimmia. Both shrubs are perennials and their blooms stand out brilliantly at this time of year. I only got into shrubs fairly recently but now I’m a huge fan. They really are so easy: all they need is a little pruning and feeding once they’re established.
Speaking of foliage, I’ve been amazed at the gorgeous red tones on our two blueberry bushes. I’m pretty sure they didn’t do this last year but they look stunning against the wall behind the vegetable bed. And the creeper-whose-name-I-can’t-remember winding her way through the bush-whose-name-I-can’t-remember stands out beautifully too.
Despite what I said last month, I won’t be planting any more bulbs this Autumn. We have so many scattered through our garden and orchard (something I never thought I’d admit to!) that I’ve decided to give my osteopath a break this year.
What's fruiting now?
As you might know by now, I don’t grow many vegetables, just fruit, which I personally find easier and less maintenance. So there’s not much to harvest any more, apart from the cut and come lettuces from Flora’s July Mud and Bloom box which are still quite happy in the greenhouse.
The Indian summer we’ve had over the last few weeks must be responsible for the few wild strawberries hiding in our vegetable bed. I’m surprised the mice haven’t had them though, as they’re still very sweet.
Despite the prolific crop of grapes (thanks to this year’s summer heatwave), Alan has not been keen to attempt wine making. Sadly, Chateau Willows is not to be. On the bright side, the birds will have a feast for some time to come.
Jobs for November
Our greenhouse is virtually empty now so this month I’ll need to wash the glass, both inside and out. Tip: wash the outside when it’s raining, it’s much quicker and you won’t need to rinse. Although I’m not planning on using it to grow anything this Winter, if I were then this job is really important to maximise light levels. But I will be using it to store some tender plants like our geraniums which aren’t frost-hardy.
Although our plum tree only managed three plums this year after its long overdue Spring prune, I’ll need to protect it from the wingless female winter moths. They crawl up the trunk and lay their eggs, which hatch into very hungry grubs that devour leaves, blossom and fruit. Tying sticky grease bands around the trunk will go a long way towards stopping this.
And I’ll be feeding and mulching all our flower and vegetable beds soon. The nutrients in the soil will be pretty much depleted now, especially after working so hard this summer. Digging in some chicken manure pellets before Winter will give any new seeds or plants next year a really good head start. An additional bonus is that as chicken manure STINKS, our cats are deterred from using my beds as a deluxe toilet. At least they were last year, so fingers crossed for this year too…
Last, but not least, at the end of this month it will be time to clean and sharpen all our secateurs, loppers, spades, trowels, and other garden tools. And give them a quick spray of WD40 to prevent any rust forming over Winter. Think of it like cleaning cutlery before you put them away in the drawer. And because pruning needs clean and sharp tools to avoid bruising or otherwise harming your plants.
As you may recall from last month’s gardening update, Flora now has her own little patch of garden too, behind our summerhouse. Recent additions include a pond (with an ornamental frog for now), a delphinium, some cyclamen in a pot, and some snowdrop bulbs from her October Mud and Bloom box. And some gravel so she can walk up and down in admiration without getting too muddy.
We’re just waiting for bare root raspberry canes to come into stock and then we’ll plant one on the patch of mud at the end in front of the fence. I’ve warned her not to expect fruit for at least a year but I don’t think she’s listening…
November in my garden
Sadly, there’s no more Gardeners World to enjoy on a Friday evening now, Monty Don & Co won’t be back on our screens until the end of March. But that doesn’t mean we won’t still have plenty of jobs to do over the weekends ahead. What will you be getting up to in your garden or outside space this November?